Jun 14, 2014

Mitre Studios and the Paekakariki Press

Make sure you make time this final weekend of the Trail to visit one of Walthamstow's most exciting creative spaces: Mitre Studios and the Paekakariki Press (31 in the Art Trail Guide).
Upstairs at Mitre Studios you can see work by Martin Adams, Esther Nelsen, Della Rees, Alke Schmidt and Kirsten Schmidt (they also had some delicious snacks and cake). You might recognise Esther's work from having seen her life-size sculpture of people from the series 'Waiting'. Here you can see smaller pieces, works in progress, drawing and prints - getting an amazing insight into her working processes and inspirations. 
Martin Adams, who was on hand on the opening weekend to give impromptu tours of the studio, is an eclectic printmaker and sculpture, whose work looks at a world in flux. It seemed appropriate then that he was exhibiting his fantastic mobiles and hanging sculptures.
Della Rees usually makes site-specific work that engages with environmental issues and our relationship to the built and natural environment (you might remember her wallpapering the old fire station on Forest Road a few years ago). You can look through the amazing portfolios of her work - from the subtle and elegant to the playful and loud - but there are also some beautiful pieces on display, including works inspires by her recent wrist injury. Turning medical setback into new subject matter, she has worked over images of her scans and took up embroidery to help strengthen her wrist (ask what the inspiration is behind these stunning circular ones - you'll be surprised!)
Alke Schmidt is currently working on a new body of work for an exhibition at William Morris Gallery this autumn. It's a great opportunity to see an artist in the process of preparing for an exhibition - not only creating the work, but considering the space and legacy of the gallery. Her starting point for the new exhibition is the horrific collapse of the garment factory in Bangladesh last year, in which over a thousand people died. Morris's concern for the state of labour and our respect for the things we use and what they are worth is no less important today. But Alke's work is developing more complicated dimensions: the removal of industry to third-world countries, our culture of disposability, the role of women (she often works with fabrics and textiles) and their equality in art and industry. It looks to be a subversive and thought-provoking exhibition. 
She's also selling some delicious home made jam!

Downstairs is the Paekakariki Press, an amazing example of Morris's values in action, and an inspirational transformation of history into modern functionality. Named after a town in New Zealand (meaning 'the perching place of the little green parrot'), the press was established to continue the tradition of letterpress printing - the industrious process of arranging the type and carving the images by hand, inking them and directly pressing onto paper. 

Matt McKenzie, whose father ran the Waite-ata press at Victoria University, New Zealand, has one of the most impressive collections of letterpress equipment around, and is an amazing resource of knowledge on all things type and letterpress-related (he recognised the font on Waltham Forest bins; caslon, if you're interested!) The press have produced many beautiful books and pamphlets, some of which are for sale. If you get the chance, have a look at Matt's new machine for casting types - a molten mixture of lead, tin and antimony is poured into a mould, and the machine makes an impressive racket before shooting the cast type out the other side.

Before you leave check out the exhibition of paintings by Johnny Marsh - inspired by myths and surreal stories. 

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